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Annual Mozilla Festival kicks off, promoting openness online

The annual Mozilla Festival has kicked off in Ravensbourne, London, where coders, hackers, journalists and other proponents of the open web have come together to discuss, share, and promote web literacy and openness online. The event, which officially launched last night with an on-site science fair, is playing host to dozens of sessions and workshops, with experts discussing topics as diverse as open journalism, citizen science, and digital art.

ITProPortal is pleased to be attending the festival, where we will be learning more about Mozilla's commitment to web literacy and exploring how different groups are pioneering openness in the digital space. At a pre-festival gathering at Mozilla HQ earlier this week, the foundation's director Mark Surman discussed Mozilla's work towards making coding and programming skills a so-called 'fourth literacy' - joining language, math and science as the cornerstones of learning.

In his opening remarks this morning, Surman expanded on that idea.

"We want to make sure that we live in a digital world where we're not just readers, but we're also writers. We think we can make not just a web that works that way, but we think we can make a writeable society," said Surman, highlighting the long-term goal of creating a community wherein millions of people will come together to learn code, teach code, and promote the 'webmaker' ethos.

"Coding can be something that's a part of our every day lives whether we're journalists or lawyers or doctors or hackers," he said. "We need to build this idea of not just learning and understanding how the web works - although that's key - but the idea of making as a way of learning." Mozilla Project director Mitchell Baker stressed the foundation's philosophy as it underlies its software and other initiatives. "Mozilla exists to build openness, freedom, respect for the individual, and the opportunities for each person to not only enjoy want appears in front of us, but to make things," she said.

More specifically, Mozilla hopes to make inroads in the mobile sphere, where hardware and software are largely closed off from third-party experimentation. "The DIY/maker ethic [that Mozilla is founded on] doesn't exist in the mobile space. If you want to do something, you have to go back to Google or Apple and ask for permission many times," Baker said.

"[One of our] major product initiatives is to bring that openness to the mobile space," she said, of the Mozilla Firefox mobile browser. "The idea of being able to do things without permission is very important of us."

For those following along from home, tune in via the official HD livestream or on Twitter, where attendees are tweeting under the hashtag #mozfest.

Image Credit: Flickr (Paul Clarke)